Bobcat senior set as Army cadet
Cutline: Orangefield senior Mack Patterson is heading off this summer to West Point after earning a Congressional appointment to the U.S. Military Academy.
By Dave Rogers
For The Record
Mack Patterson has spent a decade working hard and achieving an outstanding goal, but the Orangefield senior doesn’t expect any favors when the next chapter of his life begins in July.
“Everybody that goes there is a valedictorian, salutatorian or class president,” he said. “There’s no such thing as a big man on campus there.”
U.S. Representative Dr. Brian Babin notified Patterson in February that he was receiving a Congressional appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York.
He is believed to be the first Orangefield High student ever to win an appointment to a military academy.
Patterson leaves Texas July 3 to begin six weeks of basic training.
He thinks he’s ready, as in already indoctrinated after a summer seminar.
“From the time you step off the bus, they treat you like when you’re getting admitted. People are yelling in your face,” Patterson said.
“When you walk by the library and student center and see statues of General Eisenhower and General Patton, you go, ‘Wow, those people went here.’”
The son of the Stephen and Candi Patterson – he’s Orangefield’s schools superintendent, she’s a high school counselor – Mack attended recruitment seminars at all three service academies after his junior year.
He had already been to baseball academies at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, and the Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs after his sophomore year.
“All three of those are gorgeous and in different parts of the country,” Patterson said. “I loved every minute of it.”
But in the end, his choice was West Point.
“It was eye-opening to me to get to experience what the cadets experience at those places,” he said.
“West Point originally was not my first choice – I was all Navy – but when I tried to see myself fitting in, that was at West Point.”
Patterson has fit in at Orangefield, where he posted a 4.69 weighted grade-point average.
In high school, he’s been class vice president for four years, on the UIL Academic team for four years and a four-year starter for the varsity baseball team.
He was all-district first-team third baseman as a ninth-grader after hitting .370.
He has also found time to participate in Interact, a Rotary Club-sponsored club, as national relations chairman.
He belongs to Orangefield’s “Meet in the Middle Club,” to help special needs students. For two years, he has volunteered with ASK baseball. That’s Adaptive Sports for Kids.
“It’s an amazing experience,” he said of the ASK program. “It’s the most rewarding thing you could ever be a part of.”
Patterson said he’s wanted to go to a service academy since he was in third grade.
“Our school had a Veterans Day program for veterans, and I remember thinking, ‘Wow, that’s amazing.’ Then less than three weeks later, me and my dad watched the Army-Navy football game.
“I asked, ‘What is that?’
“Then I figured out I could do that.
“And in the eighth grade, I really started feeling I could do that. Having good grades and being involved in sports and activities, I saw it was possible.”
Patterson said there were days his drive to excel needed a boost.
“My family definitely helped me in the process,” he said. “There were days you want to quit, but they’d say, ‘Lets get some more reps,’ or ‘spend another hour reading.’”
He said some of his friends “are extra excited for me. They know this is something I’ve wanted for a long time,” Patterson said.
You can take the baseball player out of Orangefield …
… but Patterson said he wants to try out for the West Point team.
“I can do the other things while I play baseball,” he said.
Then he lists the “other things.”
“Parachute team, model UN, different clubs – like Wall Street investing, be a Congressional intern. There’s a million things I’ve always wanted to do,” he said.
“I want to be the best for my country.”